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Chevrolet Announces More Details on 2017 Bolt EV

17Chevrolet_Bolt_AS_AC_04.jpg 2017 Chevrolet Bolt | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — With all the hoopla surrounding the new Tesla Model 3, it’s easy to overlook Chevrolet’s competitor: the 2017 Bolt EV. The automaker plans to have it on the market at least a year earlier than the Model 3. Chevrolet promises the Bolt will have a 200-mile range, but other details have been slim. Until now.

Related: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Photos, Details on GM’s 200-Mile Electric Car

The automaker released more details about the Bolt’s powertrain, and the big news is the battery: a special nickel-rich lithium-ion formulation that’s packed into a flat arrangement under the vehicle’s seats. It has more in common with the pack in Chevrolet’s Spark EV than the Volt plug-in hybrid in that regard, but it features some considerable improvements over the Spark EV’s unit.

The pack itself is more than twice the size of the Spark EV’s battery pack and features more than three times the Spark EV’s energy storage. It’s a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which puts it well above the Nissan Leaf (30 kwh), BMW i3 (22 kwh), Chevy Volt (18.4 kwh) and almost matches the Tesla Model S (70-90 kwh). Unlike the Leaf’s air-cooled pack, the Bolt EV will feature liquid thermal controls, similar to the Chevy Volt’s, for better energy management.

How can they fit such a big battery into what is essentially a compact car? The pack is integrated into the Bolt’s lower structure and contained in a tray that’s braced across the vehicle. Chevrolet says the pack’s layout and structure improves the Bolt EV’s torsional stiffness by 28 percent, while preserving cargo room and seat space for five people.

Putting that power to the ground is a unique single-motor drive unit, powering the front wheels. The Spark EV’s motor puts out some phenomenal torque, producing just shy of 400 foot-pounds, but the Bolt EV’s unit has been toned down a bit — its peak output is rated at about 265 pound-feet. This powertrain should be good for well more than 200 miles of range, according to Chevrolet, and a zero-to-60-mph time less than 7 seconds.

Chevy is already building preproduction prototypes of the Bolt EV on the assembly line in Orion, Mich., alongside the Buick Verano and Chevy Sonic compact, and expects deliveries to happen by the end of 2016. No word yet on pricing but Chevrolet has said the Bolt will start around $30,000 after federal tax credits.

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